Four evicted from HS2 protest camp as Swampy threatens to be there for ‘quite a while’

‘I would imagine they will probably have us out before Christmas’ says veteran protester

Ella Glover
Monday 11 October 2021 18:03
comments
HS2 protester sends message ahead tunnel 'eviction'
Leer en Español

Evictions are underway at a camp set up by anti-HS2 protesters in Buckinghamshire.

The Wendover Active Resistance (WAR) camp, by the A413 London Rd in Wendover, was established by activists in January 2020 in protest at the development of Britain’s second dedicated high speed railway.

They have dug an extensive underground tunnel at the site. Four had been evicted so far, while a fifth left voluntarily, a spokesperson said on Monday.

Among those still occupying the tunnel is activist Dan Hooper, 48, also known as ‘Swampy’.

He is one of six HS2 Rebellion protesters who recently walked free from court after facing charges of aggravated trespass for digging and occupying tunnels underneath Euston Square in London, costing HS2 an additional £3.5m.

He said the eviction has been “quite chilled” so far, telling PA: “The bailiffs came in quite quick and tried to break into the tower but then they realised that it was dangerous to do that.”

He added: “We’ve got a good rapport with the tunnel eviction team. We’re just basically digging while we’ve still got the upper ground.”

He predicted that the eviction will end before Christmas, but said that it won’t be quick.

He said: “One of the bailiffs keeps joking about us being there at Christmas, but I would imagine they will probably have us out before Christmas.

“I’d probably be in a lot of trouble with my family if I’m not there for Christmas.

“We could be here for quite a while I think. It’s definitely not going to be quick.”

A spokesman for HS2 said: “HS2 has a legal right to possession of this land which is needed for the safe construction of the railway.

“We are currently working to safely remove a number of illegal trespassers who have put themselves into dangerous positions.

“Their irresponsible actions are wasting public money, putting our staff at risk and putting unnecessary strain on the emergency services.

“The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19, with over 20,000 people already working on the project and tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain.

“We urge everyone who cares about our natural environment to support a project that is providing work across the UK today, and in the future will get people out of cars, off planes and onto low carbon rail travel.”

A report published last month by Oxford Economics, commissioned by the Railway Industry Association (RIA), found that investing in HS2 is worse value for money than simply improving the UK’s existing railway networks.

According to the study, £2.50 is generated for the wider economy for every £1 spent on British railways.

This compares with a predicted return of between £1.30 and £1.50 for every pound invested in HS2, further to a governmental paper published by Doug Oakervee.

However, Sir John Armitt, chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission called the estimates “notoriously speculative”.

In a statement, he said: “Calculation of the amount of money specific schemes will pay back over time is notoriously speculative, but on a broad assessment of economic benefits, improving regional links – especially east to west such as between Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool – is likely to make the biggest difference.”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments